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Driven: Volkswagen Beetle 1.9TDi – on sale now



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Since the UK’s VW dealers received their first right-hand drive versions of the Beetle in January 2000, more than 51,879 have been sold. Last year’s sales totalled 6,891.

Although Beetle received a face-lift last year, its distinctive outline is unaltered and a keen eye is required to notice the redesigned bumpers, indicators, lights and chrome interior trim.

According to Volkswagen (UK), typical buyers are young singles and couples, many of whom remain loyal to the car’s cult image.

Beetle’s poor rear legroom and 201-litre boot negates its appeal as family transport, yet for front seat occupants it is spacious and airy.

We tested the 1.9TDI engine, which uses Volkswagen’s Pumpe Duse fuel injection technology for optimum power production and is Euro IV compliant. While the statistics of 104bhp and 177lb ft of torque may not seem so impressive, it translates to an enjoyable drive and seems faster than its 11.5 second 0-62mph figure.

Beetle’s ride and handling reach a good compromise – comfort levels are maintained while providing a fun and involving drive.

While the 1.9TDI’s list price of £14,745 seems high compared to several of the competing niche models, it includes air-con, CD-player, fully adjustable steering, curtain airbags and ESP. Oddly though, it has steel wheels as standard – buyers will have to pay £375 for 16in or £1,195 for 17in alloy replacements.

Price: £14,745
Engine: 1.9-litre 104bhp turbodiesel
Performance: 0-62mph 11.5sec; top speed 112mph
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Efficiency: 60.1mpg, 149g/km CO2
Rivals: Seat Ibiza, Mini, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Citroën C3 Pluriel
Strengths: Fun image and drive
Weaknesses: Price
Opportunity: Young-at-heart drivers
Threat: May start to look dated
USP: How can anyone not like it?

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